Monday January 27, 2014

The income gap between tenure faculty & adjunct contract professors in Canadian universities

Being a highly-educated academic doesn't mean you will have a comfy faculty job at a university. Many professors in Canada make incredibly low wages and deal with unstable employment. (Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images)

Being a highly-educated academic doesn't mean you will have a comfy faculty job at a university. Many professors in Canada make incredibly low wages and deal with unstable employment. (Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images)

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Many people who've earned advanced degrees are astonished at how little some universities value their graduates.

"Our working conditions are your learning conditions. I will give you an A plus right now if you promise to agitate on behalf of adjunct equity and rights."

- Fordham adjunct professor Alan Trevithick teases students

In Canada, climbing the Ivory tower has never been more difficult. More people graduate with PhDs, but full-time tenure track faculty positions are harder to get. Many highly educated Canadians struggle to find adequate-paying work that meets their credentials.

And for those who dream of chalk-boards, lecture halls, and tweed jackets... the best they can get is work as a part-time instructor.

It's estimated that about half of all university teaching in the country is done by contract professors -- instead of permanent full time professors.

  • Beth Parton left teaching in search of greener pastures... along with stable work and good pay. She is a former university professor with a doctorate in religion and culture. Beth Parton was in Toronto.

  • Elizabeth Hodgson is a tenured professor at the University of British Columbia but spent 9 years teaching there as an adjunct professor. She is also a member of the Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee with the Canadian Association of University Teachers. Elizabeth Hodgson was in our Vancouver studio.

  • Ian Lee says there are many reasons adjunct professors are falling behind. He is an Assistant Professor in Strategic Management and International Business at the Sprott School of Business. Ian Lee was in Ottawa.
     

We would like to hear your stories about being an adjunct professor or contract employee.

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This segment was produced by The Current's Shannon Higgins and Sarah Grant.